According to the American Medical Association (AMA), opioid abuse is a serious public health problem that has reached crisis levels across the United States, with 44 people dying each day from overdose of opioids, and many more becoming addicted.
With increased visibility in the media and greater public focus on opioid abuse, the AMA created the AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse. The Task Force is made up of 27 physician organizations including the AMA, American Osteopathic Association, 17 specialty and seven state medical societies as well as the American Dental Association – all of which are “committed to identifying the best practices to combat this public health crisis and move swiftly to implement those practices across the country,” the AMA said in a press release.
“We have joined together as part of this special Task Force because we collectively believe that it is our responsibility to work together to provide a clear road map that will help bring an end to this public health epidemic,” said AMA Board Chair-Elect Patrice A. Harris, M.D., MA.
“We are committed to working long-term on a multi-pronged, comprehensive public health approach to end opioid abuse in America,” she added.
The Task Force will urge physicians to register for and use state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) as part of the decision-making process when considering treatment options. PDMPs have been shown to help physicians identify patients who may be misusing opioids.
“PDMPs vary greatly in efficacy and functionality from state to state,” said Dr. Harris. “Alone, they will not end this crisis, but they can provide helpful clinical information, and because they are available in nearly every state, PDMPs can be effective in turning the tide to end opioid abuse in the right direction.”
The new initiative is intended to increase doctors’ education on safe, effective and evidence-based prescribing.
Dr. Daniel B. Carr, president-elect of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) said that “As a multidisciplinary organization of physicians and other healthcare providers dedicated to relieving pain, AAPM has long provided prescribers with resources to balance benefits and risks of all pain therapies as they construct safe, effective and personalized treatment plans. AAPM was delighted to participate in AMA’s broad-based effort to augment existing resources through patient and provider education, and looks forward to supporting these ongoing efforts.”
Not much was stated about who abuses opioids, such as the large percent of abusers who are not pain sufferers. But, the AMA did say, “America’s patients who live with acute and chronic pain deserve compassionate, high-quality and personalized care and we will do everything we can to create a health care response that ensures they live longer, fuller and productive lives,” said Dr. Harris.